Greens from the garden.

A desire to grow your own food doesn’t always come with a backyard or patio that’s suitable to do it. Cold weather, lack of sunlight, no time to tend to plants, or just simply lack of useable outdoor space might make you think that you’ll never be able to exercise that green thumb.

Until now. A variety of indoor growing kits now let everyone have the opportunity to grow plants, with no excuses.

In fact, countertop gardens can be better for the environment. The designs are engineered to be so self-sufficient and take up so little space that there is no room for waste. Soil-less growing mediums mean fewer pests, reducing the use of pesticides and disease-control sprays. Controlled temperatures and weather conditions mean less stress and damage to the plants, too. Water usage is cut down dramatically, since water is often recycled in a system. Plants grow faster and in less space, allowing you to maximize your output and consume more produce grown in your own kitchen.

Window garden
Window garden. Image courtesy of Rebecca Sims.

If you’re searching for innovative gardening ideas that go beyond a pot, soil and some seeds, check out these 5 mini countertop garden options:

  1. If you’ve got a sunny location and a spot of surface space, then you can start harvesting ingredients for your next meal. How about mushrooms for a stir-fry? In just ten days, you can have more than a pound of mushrooms if you use Back to the Roots’ Mushroom Kit which grows organic mushrooms in a box that you simply set on a table and water twice a day.
  2. You’re going to need some herbs to flavor that stir-fry, of course. So why not add a conversation piece to your countertop and harvest some food, too, with Back to the Roots’ Water Garden. This aquaponic garden grows organic herbs and lettuce on the top of a fish tank. The cute fish’s poop helps fertilize the growing plants in a closed-loop system that gives the kids a pet and you some cooking ingredients.
  3. Fish farming too weird for you? Then go totally hands-free and seriously eco-chic with the hydroponic plug-in planters from Modern Sprout. These minimalist modern planters will grow three different plants with virtually no effort from you. Just program the container for self-feeding and self-watering and you can indulge in lettuce, kale and chard year-round.
  4. Sprouts are among the easiest and fastest edibles to grow. And they add a nutritious topping to sandwiches, salads and smoothies. Sprout kits and towers can help you maximize your space to grow these microgreens quickly and easily.
  5. Among the biggest problems with indoor edible gardening is the lack of enough sunlight. Yet artificial light can grow strong and healthy plants and allow you to position a countertop garden wherever is convenient for you, not just where the sun happens to shine. Indoor kits with grow lights offer a ready-made system to start growing plants, usually with a self-watering feature. A less expensive option is to simply buy lights on your own and position them over pots with soil.

This article sprout ideas in your mind?  You’ll also want to check out our feature on the Aqualibrium aquaponic garden.

Got something else you use in your home? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.  

Feature image courtesy of Jim Lukach

By Kimberly Button

Kimberly Button is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home and the Editor-in-Chief of GetGreenBeWell , featuring modern, sane ideas for living a non-toxic life. A professional journalist for nearly two decades, Button has written for magazines such as Martha Stewart's Whole Living, American Airlines, AAA, Sierra, National Geographic Traveler, and Vegetarian Times. Visit for more information.